Summer rewind: Minnesota Timberwolves
A look at the key offseason moves and changes for every team in the league. Next up are the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Restructure at the top
The biggest offseason addition for the Timberwolves was the addition of head coach Tom Thibodeau in late April.
Thibodeau and new general manager Scott Layden inherit a young Timberwolves team with a strong foundation that includes franchise talent Karl-Anthony Towns.
The challenge for Thibodeau will be to temper expectations and come up with the right plan for the future.
Minnesota has found itself at the bottom of the NBA standings the past few years and has not played meaningful games in March and April.
The Timberwolves will need to learn how to win before they take that next step in the spring.
Even with Ricky Rubio under contract for the next three seasons, Minnesota went the “best available” route, selecting Dunn with the fifth pick in the draft.
Dunn, considered the third-best prospect and top point guard in the draft, has the size, playmaking ability and defensive skills to be a starting point guard in the near future.
Fortifying the frontcourt
Flush with cap space but with limited roster spots, Minnesota’s priority in free agency was to address the frontcourt.
Although Kevin Garnett and Nikola Pekovic are under contract, both players have been hampered by injuries the past two seasons.
Because Garnett and Pekovic combined to play just 50 games last season, Minnesota brought in some insurance with the additions of Aldrich and Hill.
Aldrich, coming off his best season, is a suitable backup, and Hill has proven to be durable the last three seasons.
1. Ricky Rubio $13,550,000
2. Nikola Pekovic $12,100,000
3. Kevin Garnett $8,000,000
4. Cole Aldrich $7,643,979
5. Andrew Wiggins $6,006,600
6. Karl-Anthony Towns $5,960,160
7. Jordan Hill $4,000,000
8. Kris Dunn $3,872,520
9. Nemanja Bjelica $3,674,333
10. Brandon Rush $3,500,000
11. Shabazz Muhammad $3,046,299
12. Gorgui Dieng $2,348,783
13. Zach LaVine $2,240,880
14. Adreian Payne $2,022,240
15. Tyus Jones $1,339,680
Kevin Martin (waiver) $1,360,305
Salary table 2016
Guaranteed salaries $79,305,474
Dead money $1,360,305
Tax variance $0
Free-agent cap holds $0
Incomplete roster charge $0
Salaries: cap $80,665,779
Salaries: tax $80,665,779
Salary cap $94,143,000
Luxury tax $113,287,000
Cap space $13,477,221
Tax room $32,621,221
Minnesota had $25 million in cap room before free agency started.
Rush, Aldrich and Hill were signed with cap space.
The Timberwolves, with $13.4 million in cap space remaining, still have the $2.89 million room mid-level available if the remainder of the cap room is used. However, Minnesota has 15 guaranteed contracts and no roster spots available.
Free agents signed in the offseason cannot be traded until either Dec. 15, Jan. 15 or for three months if they signed after Sept. 15.
Rush, Aldrich and Hill cannot be traded until Dec. 15.
Garnett has a no-trade clause and cannot be traded without his permission.
Muhammad and Dieng, former 2013 first-round picks, are eligible to have their rookie contracts extended.
They are in the final season of their deals and can have their contracts extended until Oct. 31. Both players’ first-round cap holds (Dieng, $5.8 million; Muhammad, $7.6 million) are low enough for the Timberwolves to bypass extension talks until next summer.
Starter Bench Bench
PG Ricky Rubio Kris Dunn Tyus Jones
SG Zach Lavine Brandon Rush
SF Andrew Wiggins Shabazz Muhammad Nemanja Bjelica
PF Karl-Anthony Towns Jordan Hill Kevin Garnett/Adreian Payne
C Gorgui Dieng Cole Aldrich Nikola Pekovic
SNEAK PEEK TO NEXT SUMMER
Minnesota could head into next summer with close to $25 million in cap space.
Like this past summer, the Timberwolves can continue to develop their core of former first-round draft picks and use cap space to fill roster needs or attract a marquee free agent.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Although Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are the face of the Timberwolves, the progress Minnesota makes this year will be dictated by Rubio’s play at point guard.
Rubio, 25, is the veteran of the young core. Expect Rubio to relish the competition at point guard with the addition of Dunn.
In five NBA seasons, Rubio has been remarkably consistent, if not spectacular. His improvement would be huge for the Timberwolves.
Previous teams in the series: Atlanta Hawks | Brooklyn Nets | L.A. Clippers
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